It's my first time flying Lufthansa German Airlines, which is my favorite airline (don't know why). I was flying to Paris for the Paris Air Show, which was really spectacular itself, and I saw many other highlights on the way.
23 June 2001 LH739 HKG-FRA B747-400 D-ABVT on-time
The flight was scheduled to leave at 1240 local, and I checked in 3 hours in advance and went into the restricted area 2 hours prior to boarding. To my delight, I saw Air Canada's Star Alliance A340-300 C-FYLD, which I had never expected I would see in the rest of my life since Air Canada changed their schedule to arrive HKG at night.
Boarding started on time at 1210 local, as expected. I was in seat 44K which is a window seat. Next to me were a Hong Kong couple going to Frankfurt for (perhaps) a honeymoon trip and I had a glance at the boarding passes, they will be going to TXL, LED and SVO. Wow.
I snatched Lufthansa's timetable and postcard as I saw them at the racks. The flight was full. Pushback and takeoff were uneventful and punctual. Shortly after takeoff on runway 25L, the flight attendants distributed blankets and headsets, and to my surprise, this airline even prints MENUS for the airline meals. This is something I had never seen before. Anyway, the flight was bumpy all the way as the aircraft made its way towards the north via Guilin, Xi'an, Lanzhou, Gobi Desert and Urumqi in the first 6 hours. The route was pretty strange as it was in a zigzag shape. The next half of the flight was in great circle path, from Urumqi to Frankfurt, passing right over Vilnius.
On descent into Frankfurt, I saw a trijet in a short distance. It was a Sibir Tu-154: the first Tu-154 I had ever seen. Had two aircraft come in such a short distance here in HKG, it would have been on the news labelled a "near miss". I could even take a decent photo of that aircraft with a 300mm lens. We overtook the Tu-154 and entered the traffic pattern of FRA. Weather was fine, and the flight arrived on time. I saw an Aeroflot Il-86 when the aircraft was braking, which followed an uneventful landing on runway 25R.
The 747 parked at terminal 1B and I rushed through the customs and the very long tunnel for my connection on towards CDG.
23 June 2001 LH4098 FRA-CDG B737-500 D-ABIU on-time
This aircraft parked on the tarmac and the passengers had to be transported to the plane by a bus. One whole bus took on all the passengers (less than twenty of them) and we were driven to the tarmac. I took a photo of a landing Lufthansa Cargo MD-11F when I was walking to the plane. My seat was 14F, again a window seat. The aircraft was parked right next to a Sibir Tu-204, which was another delight for me.
The 737 left the place (Well, what should I say? There wasn't any pushback!) just 5 minutes after we have boarded. There was only one person per row, and I could even lay down flat on the three seats! Another surprise for me during taxi was Lufthansa Cargo Clocks (is that how you call it?) B747-200F D-ABZF.
The engines of the 737 roared furiously down runway 25R and I could feel a huge force pushing me against the seat. Shortly after that, the plane pulled its nose and the climb power was drastic. This is the emptiest flight I had ever been on, and this was the largest climb power that I had ever experienced. I was reading a newspaper that costs 25 French Francs (!) and had an article about homosexual people
which I was pretty interested in since I wanted to know how the authorities in Europe react to them.
The flight landed on runway 08R at CDG after a short cruise. Varig's World Cup 98 MD-11 PP-VPP was at the gate preparing to leave for Porto Alegre via Sao Paulo. The Lufthansa 737 parked at satellite 6 of Terminal 1, and I trekked up the looooooong "rolling floor" to the main terminal building to claim my baggage.
28 June 2001 LH5765 CDG-MUC CRJ D-ACLI delayed 30 mins
After seeing my first B767-400ER by Continental, a Canadair Regional Jet came in and taxied towards satellite 6. Boarding was a few minutes late, and the delay was further increased due to a mobile phone which was still on. The flight attendant had to announce several times and told everybody to make sure that their mobile phones were off before the CRJ left.
This flight was not a pleasant one. Firstly, the flight was delayed which shortened my layover time in Munich. Secondly, I'm the only Asian aboard the flight, and everybody were looking at me as though I were a ghost or something terrible. Thirdly, this flight was full and totally cramped. I was seated at 11F, and the size of the fuselage was so small that it actually curved upon my head. The position of the windows were bad and I had to lean forward to take pictures.
The taxi was long. It took 15 minutes until we reached our runway, and in front of us were a Star A320, Regional ERJ-145, Air France A320 and F-100, South African 747-200 and a few of others I can't remember. Takeoff took place almost 45 minutes behind schedule. I thought of requesting an entry into the cockpit for this flight, but the flight attendants didn't seem friendly to this only Asian on board so I forgot about it.
Cruise was uneventful but agony. My head was aching. My neck was aching. My back was aching. My ears were popping. My feet were freezing. As the CRJ intercepted the glideslope into some runway (I didn't notice which) two loud shocks were heard and felt on the aircraft floor. It sounded as though somebody kicked hard twice at it - it was the lowering of the gears, dear me. The touchdown was pretty soft, although I expected it to be very hard.
I stepped out of the CRJ onto a bus which carried us to the terminal. The weather was bad and I could not take any pictures because the light was not intense enough (the time was around 2030).
28-29 June 2001 LH730 MUC-HKG A340-300 D-AIGW on-time
The delay by the last CRJ flight shortened my layover time in MUC to down to 15 minutes. I was rushing through the corridors and the passport control, and was unable to find "Hong Kong" or "LH730" on any of the display boards. When I was just about to panic, I saw a huge group of Asians (presumably people in Hong Kong), and when I approached them, I saw the boarding gate for LH730.
I was assigned the seat 44H. Hell, I asked for a window seat and that agent in CDG gave me an aisle seat. The passenger in 44K was very friendly anyway, she was a Chinese flying BHX-MUC-HKG and then home by bus to Shenzhen.
Pushback was a few minutes late (perhaps that shouldn't be called late anyway) at 2050. I saw a European Air Transport ATR-42 D-BBBB, an Anatolia 737 TC-ANL, a Pegasus 737 and an Air Namibia 747-400, but those were not easy to photograph. The aircraft taxied smoothly towards the runway (again, didn't know which) and started its takeoff roll. This flight was full of young Asian boys and girls aged less than 30. I think less than 15% of the passengers were white. That really gave me a warm feeling since everybody were of my "type".
The flight attendants, as in the last long-haul flight, distributed blankets, headsets and menus. This aircraft was quite young as I could tell from its registration and I was surprised that the TV sets could retract into the ceiling!
The A340 jaunted eastwards into the darkness, tracking short of Salzburg, over Vienna, close to Kiev, then onto a great circle route past Almaty to Urumqi. I asked a flight attendant whether I could enter the cockpit when we were somewhere north of the Himalayas, thanks to the First Officer for telling me about that. I chatted with the pilot and the FO for a while and listened to the ATC, and I discovered that ATC in this area were partially in Chinese.
As the aircraft banked right over Yankee Delta (God knows where it is!), a flight attendant told me to leave. This was my first cockpit visit, and I'm only 16, so they probably wouldn't want me in the cockpit for too long anyway. So I left the cockpit after saying goodbye to the pilot and the FO. I had stayed in the cockpit for merely five or ten minutes.
The Airbus took the same route back to HKG via Lanzhou, Xi'an, Guilin and Guangzhou in a zigzag path. It came short of Zhuhai and over Macau just before landing, made a 180 before intercepting the localizer, and came in for landing on runway 07L. The aircraft hit the ground four times: first the left gear, then the right, then again the left, and then the right. After that, the aircraft didn't have much problem taxiing to the terminal.
That wasn't the end of the journey. I proceeded to baggage claim after leaving the aircraft, and heard someone calling me to the baggage center on the PA system. Guess what, my baggage missed my connection at MUC. They said that they would transfer the thing to FRA, and then it would arrive in HKG the next day. That was pretty much of a big inconvenience since I had a lot of clothing in it and I would kill them if they ever dared to lose track of it.
Well, you might ask what happened to the baggage at last. I don't know yet. As you can see, the flight arrived at 1400 local time today
, and it is now 1800 local here. I completed the trip just 4 hours ago! The officer says that my baggage will be delivered to my home tomorrow when LH738 FRA-HKG arrives at 1130 local, and I'll tell you guys what happens.